The Wyoming Game and Fish Department forecasts good conditions for hunters this season
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said this year’s hunting season will generally be a good one for hunters. The outlooks for some game species are better than others but are still good for those hoping to take something home after a successful hunt. Hunting season for some game species continues until the end of January.
“Right now, elk hunting throughout Wyoming should be very good,” said Sara DiRienzo, a spokeswoman for the Game and Fish. “Nearly all herds in the state are at or above population objectives, so there'll be lots of opportunities for people who are pursuing bulls or cows, and [there’s] ample opportunity to harvest elk in Wyoming.”
The outlook for deer, however, isn’t as optimistic, though there’s a good chance that hunters will be able to have their chance at them overall.
“Pronghorn numbers overall are down, but those who drew licenses should do pretty well on their hunts,” she explained. “Decent buck numbers exist throughout the state, but older animals will be somewhat difficult to find. Mule deer hunting should be averaged this year, but populations were influenced by the drought and harsh winters throughout the state. Most populations have remained stable or decreased.”
Impacts to wildlife populations can largely be attributed to a few factors, such as climate. The region’s prolonged drought and the intensity of winters play a role in the size and health of wildlife that are available each year for hunters.
“Throughout the state, drought conditions were pretty persistent, and some areas the drought was worse than others, but we saw a lot of localized precipitation at key times throughout the spring and the summer that really helped wildlife habitat, which in turn should help hunters,” she said.
Sage grouse and pheasant hunting is expected to offer hunters a good chance this season even after some pheasants at a state-operated bird farm near Sheridan had to be euthanized after coming into close contact with birds that tested positive for avian influenza.
DiRienzo also urges hunters to put an emphasis on safety when hunting. This comes after several firearms-related incidents were recorded last season.
“The most common occurrences of these hunting related accidents involve usually a vehicle and either loaded firearms while traversing in vehicles or accidentally firing the firearm when it is loaded,” she explained. “We really encourage folks to treat every firearm as if it is loaded and unload firearms while you're in a vehicle to prevent any tragedies from happening while you're hunting.”
In some places, rifle season overlaps with archery season. She adds that archers hunting in rifle areas are required to wear orange or pink while in the field.
Poaching is also an issue that the Game and Fish must contend with. DiRienzo said that they’re already investigating a couple of potential wildlife hunting violations.
Tips can be called in to the Game and Fish’s Stop Poaching Hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (943-3847) or by texting ‘WGFD’ to 847411. Tipsters can choose to remain anonymous and may be eligible for submitting information leading to a conviction through the Wyoming Wildlife Protector’s Association.
Hunting is allowed on all Game and Fish managed properties. They also work with private landowners to open up more lands for hunting. Hunters need to apply for a permission slip in order to hunt in those areas, which can be done on the Game and Fish website.